Over the years, I’ve used a wide selection of training gear in the gym.
Here are the top ten items I keep in my gym bag, and why.
All of my gear fits into a single gym bag, and damn near all of it can be taken on trips without any extra hassle. There’s only one piece of bonus equipment that won’t… which you’ll see below.
I like to keep things compact and simple. There’s no reason to over-complicate things.
It doesn’t take a bunch of fancy tools in the tool shed to get the job done, it just takes the right ones.
Here are my top 10 pieces of training gear…
This is the only training gear a man needs.
#1 — Converse Chuck Taylors
I had to sit down to think about it, but surprisingly, the most consistent tools in my arsenal have been my Chuck Taylors.
When my Converse start to fall apart, I immediately order another pair.
I’ve even worn a pair of Chucks into the gym, only to change into another pair for lifting.
It may seem a little much, but trust me, when you lift with intensity, you’ll end up destroying a pair of Converse in no time… especially with walking lunges, calf raises, and boxing.
A few months ago, I had to retire my “Patriots” since the seams started bursting, and I grabbed a new pair for training at the academy. I always go with Chucks because I can tighten them in just the right places and they allow me to easily sense the floor through the thin soles.
I especially like Chuck Taylors for lifting because of the heel… IT’S NOT ANGLED.
No angle on the heel means you get a more natural ankle position for squats and deadlifts.
Most shoes have a raised heel. This often leads to your weight shifting forward onto your toes. Athletic shoes will even compress under heavy loads…
Think of a running shoe.
Running shoes are designed to absorb impact. Which means if you load up 315 on a squat, the heal will squish underneath you like a shock absorber…
That’s not good.
This offloads some of your power and can increase the chance of injury.
Hell, watch the World’s Strongest Man competitors. Many of them are wearing Converse or some other variation of a flat shoe when they are competing or training.
I love Chucks because my feet stay flat against the ground and I’m able to create an active base through my arches. They’ve been my go-to shoe for lifting for years now.
Chuck Taylors are the best training shoes I’ve ever worn, and they only fall short when you plan on running or hiking.
#2 — Hand Wraps
I’m placing hand wraps before gloves because you should always wear hand wraps whenever you are training your punches with contact.
Yes, every now and then you can go bare-knuckle on the heavy bag to condition your hands, but don’t go full strength. These should be lighter strikes. For anything heavier, always use wraps and gloves.
No matter how big you are, the bones in your hands are smaller and more delicate compared to the rest of your body. Training without hand wraps is a surefire way to break your hand or wrist if you connect with a poor shot.
Hand wraps are cheap and small, so there’s no excuse for not keeping a pair in your gym bag.
Always protect your hands!
There’s plenty of methods to wrap your hands, but I use a modified version of this one…
Finally, I use this hand wrap laundry bag to keep the Velcro on the hand wraps from destroying my other clothes in the washer and dryer. I also use this bag to wash my wrist wraps (#8 on this list).
Hygiene is important, and training martial arts can get pretty dirty. I wash my wraps once a week to keep them fresh, and I let them air out after every training session.
#3 — Boxing or MMA Gloves
Next, we have the heavy hitters.
Every man should own a pair of gloves.
You never know when a gym will have a heavy bag for you to use… and I personally don’t want to be using someone else’s sweaty, germ-infested gloves.
Title has some of best quality you’ll find in an entry-level glove, and the strap doesn’t wear out like other brands. If you’re looking for an upgrade from here, you can always go with some Cleto Reyes.
I’m not affiliated with Title, but as of the writing of this article they are offering a 20% discount on your first purchase through their website.
You simply have to signup for their newsletter. I took advantage of this when ordering mine, and I highly recommend you do the same.
My very first pair of gloves were the “Patriot” gloves…
Are you sensing a theme yet?
When it comes to MMA gloves, I use the ones from Combat Sports. If they’re good enough for Conor McGregor, they’re good enough for me.
Don’t think you need to know how to fight? Then Demons & Destiny isn’t the place for you…
#4 — Resistance Bands
Resistance bands aren’t meant to get you all jacked, tan, and juicy…
They’re meant to help your body stay functional and mobile.
The red one is great for stretching your shoulders and pecs, or to strengthen your rear delts.
The black and purple ones can be used for isolation exercises like bicep curls, tricep extensions, and hamstring curls.
The green band and heavier can be used for overhead lat stretches or even assisted pullups.
Resistance bands are highly versatile and can be used to train muscles as well as stretch them. They’re not going to build much muscle by themselves, but bands are fantastic for mobility and recovery.
Loop bands are also a staple in my gym bag.
These are fantastic for corrective exercises involving the legs and hips. I use loop bands to target the glutes and abductors during squats, hip thrusters, or lateral shuffles.
For something a little more heavy-duty, you can go with the Sling Shot hip circle. I use this one all the time with my clients.
#5 — Quality Headphones
I don’t know about you, but I hate working out without headphones.
Back when I worked at a commercial gym, my inner serenity was often interrupted by people wanting to say hi, catch up, or ask for tips. That’s the blessing and curse of being the best trainer at a facility.
Luckily, this happens a little less when you have headphones on, so that’s what I’m wearing unless I’m training with a partner or in class at the boxing academy.
Wireless headphones are superior for training because you don’t have to worry about keeping your phone on your body. I personally enjoy ear buds and circumaural headphones. The buds are the tiny ones that fit inside your ear, and the circumaural ones fit completely over your ears, like recording studio headphones.
However, these are too bulky for boxing and will fall off if you do any spinning movements with kicks and elbows.
That’s why I use the SoundMoov wireless headphones when I’m training martial arts.
These have fantastic bass and volume, and an excellent battery life for their loud output (about 2 hours).
And the best part? They don’t fall out once you put them in.
This makes them ideal for listening to music while training martial arts or working on the bag.
I’m able to use a full guard over my ears and my gloves won’t hit them. Slipping, rolling, spinning, jumping, and running won’t dislodge them. And for $40, you can’t beat them…
Step up your headphone game and avoid a lot of frustration.
#6 — Lacrosse Ball
You can use a lacrosse ball to dig into tissues and reduce muscle tension. This is an absolute must in my gym bag and my go-to solution for most of my recovery work.
I mainly use a lacrosse ball where my pecs meet my shoulder, between my shoulder blades, and right above the glutes. You can use them pretty much anywhere on the body, but these are the main areas I focus on.
You can also get what’s called a “peanut” or you can duct tape two lacrosse balls together.
I use one of these to roll up and down my spine, and to loosen my forearms. Trevor goes over some of these methods in this video.
One of the best aspects to lacrosse balls are their small size. You can take them with you on trips and loosen things up after plane rides or hotels.
When you add some of these methods to your routine, you’ll find that your recovery is much faster and you’ll be able to perform at a higher level because things won’t be overly tight and dysfunctional.
We so often hyper-focus on the fun parts of training… you know, lifting weights and punching people in the face…
We also need to prioritize some time to address recovery.
If you don’t, you’ll end up getting injured and be FORCED to prioritize it.
Train smart. Recover smart.
#7 — Lifting Belt
A lifting belt is absolutely essential if you’re going to be lifting heavy weight, and you should be…
You don’t have to use it all the time, but a lifting belt is a fantastic way to safely increase your strength.
I prefer two prongs over one, and three prongs are annoying. I haven’t used a lever belt yet, but I’ve heard many people say they like them.
I personally use Chris Jones’ lifting belt from Pump Chasers. I’m not affiliated with him, I just love his products and clothing line. The belt is top notch, and the fitted joggers accentuate a physique well.
I typically use a lifting belt for heavy deadlifts, squats, or cleans, but you can use them for many more movements. Belts are great for farmer’s or yoke carries, overhead press, and any other movement where you want a solid, locked-in core.
I also rotate between periods of using a belt and hitting my lifts raw. This helps to keep my core strong for those times when I’m not able to use one.
#8 — Wrist Wraps & Lifting Straps
Wrist wraps are meant to protect your wrists when lifting, and straps allow you to lift heavier weights.
The compression of the wraps greatly reduces the strain I feel in my wrists, especially with cleans.
I like to use these for barbell deadlifts, dumbbell stiff legs, and shrugs. They’re great for movements where you don’t want your grip strength to hold back other muscles.
I also use Cobra Grips on pulling days where I want to use less of my grip and more of my back and biceps. I really like the design of these grips because they’re so easy to use, yet so effective.
#9 — Lifting Chalk
I personally can’t stand gloves. Instead, I use chalk for many of my pulling movements and any time my hands are too sweaty for a good grip.
This has been a long-standing staple in my arsenal, and competes with my Chuck Taylors for what I’ve used the longest.
#10 — Nalgene Water Bottle
It’s American made and the customer service is outstanding.
Nalgenes come with a lifetime warranty and the company will replace them FOR FREE if they ever break.
I had one of mine break after years of use in the gym, and they shipped me a new one without any hassle on my part.
And if you’re worried about your hormones, they’re BPA-free!
I decided to throw in a little extra… Here you go.
#11 — Quality Bag
With all this gear, you’ll need something to put it in.
It’s perfect for traveling or the gym, and it holds all of your stuff easily. Most of all, it’s a great upgrade to your style.
#12 — Mouth Guard
If you’re training martial arts, then you need to be sparring.
Sparring obviously carries the risk of injury, so always use a mouth guard. Your teeth will thank you in the end.
It may be weird breathing with a mouth guard at first, but get used to it. This is the one piece of protective gear you don’t want to forget.
If you’ve never owned one before, you’ll typically boil the mouth guard in water, then mold it to your teeth for a custom fit. The whole process is pretty simple and quick.
From there, depending on how hard you’re sparring, I’d also recommend your own set of headgear. This is more for protecting your nose and face, rather than your brain.
You can still get brain damage through headgear, so train smart and be evasive.
#13 — Muay Thai Pads or Focus Mitts
I’ve saved these for last since they’ll require someone else for you to use them. If you want the freedom of being able to train anywhere you are, without having to be at a martial arts academy, then get your own pads and mitts.
A pair of quality Muay Thai pads will last you a very long time, while allowing you to train your punches, elbows, knees, and kicks.
I personally think you should mix things up with your training and be capable in many different disciplines, but if you primarily focus on boxing, then you can get by with just a set of focus mitts.
My Muay Thai coach loves these micro focus mitts for precision work, and they’d be perfect for throwing in a bag while traveling.
Out of everything on this list, Muay Thai pads are the only items that won’t fit inside your typical gym bag with the rest of this gear…
And that’s it!
These are the primary tools in my arsenal.
If you use your training gear wisely, you’ll be able to take your gains to a new level.
If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below.
Demons & Destiny
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